boop boop

Alright lets get to the good stuff. [cute old school tivo “boop boop” fast forward noise].

Christmas was delightful. Saw the g-parents, they’re looking spritely as always.  Skype’d Auntie K and Unkie J and the pups. Also spritely all around. Got into trouble with the sista in chi-town. Jet-setted back to the east coast to ring in 2012 with Manfriend and had a fantastic little jaunt in the city of Brotherly Love with the Inventor of the Flameless Candle and his blushing new bride.

Back in the Queen City, we rounded out our Beverage lab with individual presentations on various spirits. I drew, in a fantastic twist of service industry fate, Grand Marnier.  I opened my presentation with this (it really hits its stride around 0:40).

Next up: Skills of Meat Cutting. Where you actually spend 5 hours in a meat locker. A 40-degree meat locker. The only class where people are dyyyying to do the dishes (hot water). This was definitely the hardest class I’ve had. For some reason, I just couldn’t grasp all the different cuts of meat and how they related to the anatomy. We had to know poultry, beef, pork, veal, and game. The actual skill of deboning a cut of meat I mastered no problem. But this?

name every muscle and bone. ready, GO.

This was HARD. Luckily, the chef was awesome.  We’re two peas in a pod when it comes to food philosophy–he has “eat” and “local” tattooed on his wrists, and ended every lecture with 10-15 minutes of yoga-inspired stretching before we headed into the arctic. He expected a lot, and gave a lot. And by gave, I mean gave us chicken cracklin’s and pork ribs rubbed with the most amazing dry rub ever.

In the middle of this, Liscious, Sparkles, and sista Leenie came to visit! We drank WAY too much wine, had WAY too much fun, and I impressed/horrified them with my fantastic butchering skills while prepping the Sunday night chickie.

After Meat Cutting, we went to Purchasing and Product Identification, known among the collegians as “Store Room.” You learn to identify product by filling every single purchase order for every single lab in the massive store room in the basement. Well, my group filled the req’s (short for requisition) while the 18-year-olds lounged around and thought about picking up a carrot.

This chef was a great cook–but also a math mind.  We learned how to cost out individual recipes and also how to analyze a menu and pick out which items are making you good money, and which ones need to be fixed.  There was a 10-minute lecture that involved words like “dog” “star” and “plow” that was hands-down one of the most educational experiences I’ve had in a LONG time.    He also had no patience for idiots or sloths, so we got along quite well.

Ahh so many words! so few pictures! what shall we do??

BOOM. carnitas from scratch. actually prepared in my very own kitchen. with quick-pickled red onions, radishes, and jalapeno.

that’s a spicy meat-a-ball

As of this morning, Washington, DC had gotten 45 inches of snow this winter.  How much above normal is that?

35 inches above normal.

And, the weatherman is predicting another 10-20 inches starting tomorrow afternoon. What did we do to deserve this? Well, we shipped our beacon of hope back to the commies.

How did I prepare? I made meatballs. Spicy meatballs. With bacon.  Clay and Zach over at the Bitten Word posted these guys about a week ago and I had a constant, unyielding craving for them as soon as I saw them.  So really, the 24 inches of snow was just and excuse.  It’s also a great excuse for the federal government to cancel work for three days. Take THAT you tea baggers.

“I swore I wasn’t going to do this any more!” Manfriend said, amidst the ritual foot-stomping and whimpering as the final pictures were impeding his first bite. These are a fair amount of work but really, really worth it. Spicy, succulent, and soul-satisfying.  And this recipe makes GOBS, half of which promptly went into the freezer for the next cleverly-named snow storm.  Oh wait, that’s in 12 hours.

Spaghetti and Meatballs All’Amatriciana

Bon Appétit

Ingredients:

Meatballs:

  • 6 ounces uncured applewood-smoked bacon (about 6 slices), diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 pounds ground beef (15% fat)
  • 2/3 cup chopped drained roasted red peppers from jar
  • 2/3 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated onion
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sauce:

  • 2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzano)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 ounces uncured applewood-smoked bacon (about 6 slices), cut crosswise into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram

Pasta:

  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

For meatballs:

  • Place bacon in processor. Using on/off turns, grind to coarse paste. Transfer to large bowl. Using garlic press, squeeze in garlic. Gently mix in beef and all remaining ingredients. Let stand 15 minutes.
  • Line large rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Using moistened hands and scant 2 tablespoonfuls for each, roll meat mixture into 11/2-inch meatballs. Arrange meatballs on sheet. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap; chill.

For sauce:

  • Puree tomatoes with juice and garlic in batches in blender until smooth.
  • Cook bacon in large pot over medium heat until crisp; transfer bacon to plate.
  • Add 1 tablespoon oil to drippings in pot and heat over medium heat. Add half of meatballs. Cook until brown on all sides, turning carefully with small metal spatula, about 9 minutes. Transfer meatballs to baking sheet. Add more oil to pot if needed and repeat with remaining meatballs.
  • Increase heat to medium-high. Add onions and crushed red pepper to pot.
  • Sauté until golden, about 6 minutes. Add wine; boil until reduced by half, stirring up browned bits, about 8 minutes. Add tomato puree and marjoram. Boil until sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Mix bacon into sauce. Add meatballs; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until meatballs are heated through and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

For pasta:

  • Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain; transfer to large bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons oil and marjoram, adding more oil to moisten, if desired. Divide spaghetti among bowls. Top with meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and serve, passing additional cheese separately.

as if another use for bacon could possibly be invented: bacon paste.

i have baby garlic cloves, so i upped the number used.

i dumped all my mis-en-place into a bowl then added the meat. take that, bon appetit.

that is half of a LARGE onion.

speed dating for food. 15 minutes for everyone to get to know each other then be forced into a hot situation.

gratuitous bacon shot for all my loyal carnivores.

my meaty army.

aforementioned hot situation.


time to get SAUCY.

boil, boil, toil and trouble.

foot-stomping good.

after a few bites in his belly, manfriend is much more happy to aid in the food styling.

Snowpocalypse….Snowmageddon…names in the running for the next one include Snowmageddon II (lame), Snoverkill, Snowzilla, Snowfecta.  You can vote on the name here. Whatever you call it, I hope everyone is warm, cozy, and surrounded by good friends and food. 🙂

oh. yes.

My original intention was to inaugurate the le creuset with this insanely appetizing recipe, but, well, life got in the way. A girl doesn’t often have 6 hours on her hand to sit and wait for short ribs to simmer and her manfriend to come home and gobble them up. Well this girl got lucky and found just that amount of time last week. And MAN was it worth it.

Never having dealt with short ribs before, I was a little unsure what to expect, but the actual assembly of this is insanely easy. You just need to plan to be home and cognizant of your oven for the next 3 hours or so (or, if you live life on the edge, go out and hope nothing blows up).

The Pioneer Woman makes so many delicious things, when she touted these “heaven on a plate,” I knew they had to be good.  Manfriend’s first response upon diving into his plate was a quiet, profound “oh. yes.”  There may also have been a dance or two in excited anticipation as the leftovers were reheated a couple days later.

AND! I’m excited to introduce an exciting new component to DTMS: VIDEO.  You’ll find a handy little youtube link towards the bottom of the post that gives you, in techicolor, the dramatic unveiling of the shortribs.  This was a fantastic b-day gift from Manfriend and I can only dare to imagine the hijinks it will bring to this blog.

Braised Short Ribs – Heaven on a Plate
The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

  • 8 whole Beef Short Ribs
  • Kosher Salt & Pepper To Taste
  • ¼ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 6 pieces Pancetta, Diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 3 whole Carrots, Diced
  • 2 whole Shallots, Peeled And Finely Minced
  • 2 cups Red Or White Wine
  • 2 cups Beef Or Chicken Broth (enough To Almost Cover Ribs)
  • 2 sprigs Thyme
  • 2 sprigs Rosemary

Preparation Instructions

Salt and pepper ribs, then dredge in flour. Set aside.

In a large dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium heat until complete crispy and all fat is rendered. Remove pancetta and set aside. Do not discard grease.

Add olive oil to pan with the pancetta grease, and raise heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides, about 45 seconds per side. Remove ribs and set aside. Turn heat to medium.

Add onions, carrots, and shallots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pan to release all the flavorful bits of glory. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes.

Add broth, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be almost completely submerged. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs (whole) to the liquid.

Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325 and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes.

the harderst part--waiting

Ribs should be fork-tender and falling off the bone. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, lid on, before serving.

CLICK HERE FOR DRAMATIC UNVEILING. (make sure your sound is on)

At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid. (Can also refrigerate mixture, then remove solid fat from the top.)

Serve 2 ribs on bed of creamy polenta, spooning a little juice over the top. ( I totally cheated and used pre-made polenta from a tube and just added milk and cheese. don’t tell)

oh. yes.

in mother russia, steak broils you!

I like lists. I like the organization of them. I like adding things to them. I like checking things off them (actually I’m more of a strike-through person). At work, at home, and ESPECIALLY in the kitchen. For 2 years I lived not in walking distance to a grocery store, so food purchasing was done once or twice a month thanks to Zipcar and LISTS.  I’d plan a few recipes and make sure to get all the ingredients. It was a good system.

Now that I’m walking distance to 3 (yes THREE!) grocery stores, we do the European go-to-the-market-everyday-for-just-what-you-need. Which is also a very nice system.

So Monday. Manfriend and I have returned from Florida (exhausted, battered, and broke as I predicted) and there is NO food to be found. I work one of the most frantic 11-hour days in history and (still frantically) meet Manfriend at Safeway. Where ALL HELL PROCEEDS TO BREAK LOOSE. I have no list, no plan, no system. Manfriend would rather gouge his eyes out than be in a grocery store at 7pm on a weekday, and THE SHELVES ARE BARE. They are out of milk, most produce, chicken breasts, and anything else you need.  At what point did the new shiny Safeway become Communist Russia?

Needless to say, we come home with a motely crew of goods. One of which is a large flank steak, which I must have thrown into the cart right before the Red Army came storming through the doors. A little search through  my Google reader, and this little gem was discovered. Cool cucumber, zesty peppers, salty and creamy feta–all over STEAK. Yea, this was going to be good.

Flank Steak with Cucumber-Pepperoncini Relish
from Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 1  (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
  • 1  tablespoon  bottled minced garlic
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  tablespoon  pickled pepperoncini pepper pickling liquid
  • 1  tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon  Dijon mustard
  • 1  pickled pepperoncini pepper, chopped
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2  tablespoons  crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2  English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced (about 1 cup)

Method

  • Preheat broiler. (i love steps like this)
  • Sprinkle both sides of flank steak evenly with garlic, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Place steak on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray
DSCN4409

the grain on the steak makes it easy to shove the little garlic bits riiiiiight in there.

  • Broil steak 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

FIRE! I did 7 minutes per side for a 1.75lb steak, which came out on the "well" side of medium.

  • Place steak on a cutting board; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Uncover; cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.
DSCN4446

the smoke was billowing into the camera (and my face) in swirls. kinda like standing over a sidewalk grate.

  • Combine pepperoncini pickling liquid, olive oil, and mustard in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

do not fear the pepperoncinis. they are salty and tangy and delicious.

  • Add chopped pepperoncini pepper, parsley, cheese, and cucumber to oil mixture in bowl; toss well to combine.
ready

and now, rapid-fire relish assembly.

DSCN4394

DSCN4399

DSCN4418

despite a second trip to safeway, they still had no fresh parsley. Manfriend and I cautiously tasted this stuff first and determined it to be acceptable. It has salt in it though, so bear in mind when seasoning.

DSCN4435

ta-da! (full disclosure: i made this before the steak even went in the oven. i do what i WANT.)

  • Serve steak with relish. (Slice steak diagonally on the grain)
DSCN4450

READY

DSCN4452

AIM

DSCN4454

FIRE

I also made some brussels to go with because sprouts and bacon were 2 of the 6 ingredients available at the store on Monday.

DSCN4458

The photo is not quite up to my standards…but there was anxious, hungry foot-stomping and wimpering going on right directly behind me. This was his plate.

The layered flavors in this are really fantastic–every ingredient gets its time in the spotlight, and they all come together so, so nicely.  Fast, fantasic, and hello–healthy! Cooking light clocks this at 219 calories per serving.  Are you kidding me? Go fight the commies and get yourself a flank steak immediately.

silent steak.

You know those meals where everyone is completely silent while eating, save a few, low “Mmmmmm”s? This is one of those.

About 2/3rds of the way though, I said to Manfriend, “We haven’t had this in a long time, huh?” “Far, FAR too long.”

Resume silence.

This hits all the right notes of a fantastic weeknight meal: Easy. Fast. Few Ingredients. No Oven. HUGE flavor. Filling. Satsifying. Quick Clean Up.

There’s not much more to say. It’s the epitome of simple, happy food. The glaze and butter are the stars of the show, so I’m sure you could adapt this quite well with chicken or tofu (if you roll that way). Not fish…with this glaze? Gross.

Back to it. We enjoyed this with some nice cold Boddington’s (Manfriend’s ‘surprise present’ for me. Can you say bowling ball?) after two very long days in the office and it was just what we needed to bring us back to life.  Enjoy 🙂

Steak with Parmesean Butter, Balsamic Glaze, and Arugula
Bon Appetit
Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese plus Parmesan cheese shavings
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 12-ounce rib-eye steak
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 teaspoon (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 4 cups (lightly packed) arugula
  • 2 large lemon wedges

Method

(First, get your mis-en-place together…this all comes together very quickly so do yourself a favor and get your prep right:

DSCN4166

chop your shallots. two choops in, i had a minor medical situation, but Manfriend bandaged me up quickly and we proceeded. (don't worry mom, its just a little cut on my thumb.)

DSCN4172

grate your cheese. if you have grazers around like I usually do, grate 50% more.

DSCN4187

wash and prep your lettuce. there was no arugula to be found, so I subbed some big ole' greens

Now we’re ready to rock.

  • Mix grated cheese and butter in small bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper; set aside.
DSCN4178

my little camera was running on almost no juice, so I couldnt' take a full memory card of pics... (what? i didnt do that for the chicken. what are you talking about?)

  • Sprinkle steak generously with salt and pepper.
DSCN4184

my salt application was much improved from the tilapia. Also, i only do one side until it goes in the pan. Then while the seasoned side is cooking, s&p the other side. makes less mess.

  • Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add steak; cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.
DSCN4200

so nicely seasoned. how do you know when your pan is hot enough? the oil runs looser around the pan, and if you put your had a few inches above, it should be too hot to stand by the time you count to 5.

  • Transfer to plate.
DSCN4224

A+ for me! How do you know when its cooked through? There's a highly-refined poking technique...lets do dinner and i'll give you a tutorial.

  • Add vinegar, shallots, and sugar to skillet; boil until reduced to glaze, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.
DSCN4220

get these guys all ready and close at hand. I go shallots, sugar, vinegar into the pan. Have that wooden spoon ready too!

DSCN4226

this is about when Manfriend started lurking. "Is it ready yet???"

DSCN4227

DONE. Conveniently, your meat is also done resting too!

  • Divide arugula and Parmesan shavings between 2 plates. Squeeze lemon over.
DSCN4218

you should really do this while your steak is cooking. after the glaze, the name of the game is speed to get everything on the table as hot as possible.

  • Slice steak; place atop arugula.
DSCN4231

photo credit: Manfriend

  • Top steak with Parmesan butter. Drizzle lightly with glaze.
DSCN4235

queue angels singing.

  • DEVOUR.